Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Yemeni Foreign Minister Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Al Qaeda elements in Yemen were being targeted by the Yemeni army via intelligence cooperation with the US and regional countries. He added that his country’s government is able to face the threat made by the Somali al-Shabab group that announced Friday that it would send fighters to support Al Qaeda in Yemen. Al-Qirbi said that these threats will affect the Somali refugees coming into Yemen.
Al-Qirbi said, “We are not surprised by what was announced by al-Shabab, because we believe that the elements of sabotage create such alliances. Al Qaeda is an international organization, [and such organizations] coordinate with one another, and therefore try to provide each other with physical and human capabilities, and arms and trainers, as well.”
The Yemeni Foreign Minister said that this has been experienced by many other countries, and that the Somali threat to Yemen has existed for a long time, and it is necessary to strengthen the capabilities of the Somali government and its ability to control the internal situation in the country, but that Somalia has failed to receive the required Arab and international support to do this. “We [Yemen] have gone from one meeting to another, from one forum to another, regarding Somalia, but this does not translate into real support for the Somali government, which has led to increased activity by the al-Shabab movement in Somalia.”
Al-Qirbi said that the Yemeni government considers the al-Shabab threat harmful to the situation in Somalia first, as it demonstrates the lack of security in the country. He also confirmed that the Yemeni government is responsible for, and will undertake all the procedures necessary to protect the Yemeni coastline, preventing any terrorists from entering Yemeni territory.
He added “the problem is the continuous flow of Somali refugees into Yemen, as a result of the economic conditions and lack of security in Somalia, and unfortunately these [Somali refugees] are the ones who are going to be affected by the threats made by the Somali al-Shabab group.”
Dr. al-Qirbi also told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The strikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen are being carried out by the Yemeni armed forces, and there is intelligence coordination between Yemen and a number of countries, whether this is Saudi Arabia or the US or other countries in the region, because this coordination is important in the process of monitoring and pursuing these elements. There is [also] support to train and equip troops to combat terrorism in Yemen, but in the end the forces that took part in the confrontation and struck these terrorist elements were the Yemeni forces.”
In response to a question about the failed attempt to blow up oil pipelines in the city of Khawlan, near the Yemeni capital, Friday, and whether those responsible for this were connected to Al Qaeda or the Houthi insurgency, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the security agencies were still investigating the attack.